Papers of Ian Mortimer concerning his articles on the Death of Edward II

Scope and Content

The seven files contained in the collection include correspondence with the editors of three journals, English Historical Review, Speculum and Journal of Medieval History, the collection also includes draft articles concerning the death of Edward II and its aftermath.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ian Mortimer was born in Petts Wood, Kent in 1967. He won a scholarship to Eastbourne College (Sussex) and later read for degrees in history and archive studies at the University of Exeter and University College London. From 1991 to 2003 he worked for a succession of archive and historical research organisations, including Devon Record Office and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. From 2000-2003 he was the University of Exeter's first professional archivist. He has BA, MA and PhD degrees in history, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He was awarded the Alexander Prize by the Royal Historical Society in 2004, and was made an Honorary Research Fellow at Exeter in the same year.

Since 2001 he has been a self-employed writer and his best known book is 'The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England', which made the top ten bestseller list for non-fiction in The Sunday Times over Christmas 2009. Under his middle name, James Forrester, he also writes historical fiction.

Mortimer's main literary output between 2001 and 2009, however, was a linked sequence medieval biographies which collectively retell the story of political power in England from 1300-1415. The four volumes in this sequence are 'The Greatest Traitor: the life of Sir Roger Mortimer', 'The Perfect King: the life of Edward III', 'The Fears of Henry IV', and '1415: Henry V's Year of Glory'. In writing the first of these, he employed a sceptical approach to the accepted view of the death of Edward II in Berkeley Castle. In preparing for the second volume, he revisited his original argument on this subject and greatly amplified it: the result was an article published in the English Historical Review in 2005. This was the first publication in which he put forward his 'information-based' approach to historical events. This approach argues that one can go beyond the extant evidence and reconstruct the process by which information was passed to the creators of that evidence.

This collection concerns the controversy around agreement to publish his work and some of the material is directly referred to in Mortimer's latest book 'Medieval Intrigue (Continuum 2010).


Maintained as arranged by the author.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL conditions apply.

Acquisition Information

Donated by the author.

Other Finding Aids

Hard copy list by the author. Please ask at Special Collections.

Archivist's Note

Description created by Christine Faunch, Acting Head of Archives and Special Collections, 27 Jan 2010, with biographical details courtesy of Ian Mortimer. Revised by Christine Faunch 17 Aug 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.




This material will form the subject of a publication.